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Citizenship guide
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Innovator visa

Innovator visa replaced Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa from 29 March 2019. Though it is very similar to it, they are quite different in terms of required investment and criteria to be met by a business.

Innovator visa is accessible to entrepreneurs that are willing to invest £50,000 or more into a new or existing UK company. Application can be submitted either by a single applicant or with other businessmen.

Simple guide for innovators

  1. Apply alone or with a partner
  2. Prove you have £50,000 (each partner)
  3. Get your business idea endorsed
  4. Extend your visa any number of times
  5. Become permanent resident in 5 years
  6. Get a British passport in 6 years

Eligibility for Innovator visa

If you wish to set up a new business, you need to demonstrate you have £50,000 available to you or your business. The source of funds can be any. However, if it is a team, each applicant must have £50,000 adding up to the total investment amount for the whole team. If the endorsement letter confirms that at least £50,000 funds are available, there is no need to provide any other evidence.

If you invest in an established business that has been endorsed for a visa previously, you don’t need to show £50,000.

Main applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

Endorsement

To be able to apply for the Innovator visa, you must prove that your business idea or business is viable, innovative and scalable. You do it by having it assessed first and then endorsed by a relevant body.

After your visa is granted, you will have three so-called checkpoints at 6, 12 and 24 months after that, to update the endorsing body on your progress and confirm the compliance with all the requirements. If the endorsing body withdraws your endorsement before your visa expires, you need to get a new endorsement and re-apply. Otherwise, your visa will be cancelled.

Other criteria

Apart from relevant business experience and education businessmen must submit and show the following:

  • Ability to maintain yourself and dependants.
  • Knowledge of English.
  • Tuberculosis test (if applicable).
  • Criminal record certificate(s).

Visa validity: 3 years.

Applying with a business partner

You can make an application with another businessman and form a team. Each of you must have access to at least £50,000.

Requirements for Innovator visa extension

You can apply to extend your visa if you are still running an endorsed business in the UK or wish to start a new one. In both cases, you need to have an endorsement letter from an approved body and £50,000 of available funds if this is a new business.

Innovator visa can be extended for three years for an unrestricted number of times.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Entrepreneurs can apply for ILR in 5 years from the first entry under Start-up or Innovator routes and provide an endorsement letter that would confirm the following:

  • What the applicant and their business have achieved since the previous endorsement;
  • The business is active and trading and looks to be sustainable for at least another year;
  • The applicant has been actively engaged in running the business and will continue to do so in the future.

The business itself must be able to demonstrate two or more of the following (based on a single-applicant application):

  • At least £50,000 has been spent on running a UK company;
  • Significant increase in the number of customers;
  • Research and development activities;
  • Gross revenue in the last year:
    • £1 million, or
    • £500,000, including £100,000 from exports.
  • Full-time jobs for settled workers:
    • 10 jobs, or
    • 5 jobs with average annual salary £25,000 (gross).

Other criteria:

  • Absences from the UK cannot be more than 180 days in any 12 months before applying for settlement. Dependants are given ILR on the basis of the main applicant.
  • English language test.
  • Life in the UK test.

Citizenship and passport

You and your family can apply for citizenship in 1 year after settlement and 5 or 6 years after your first entry, subject to everybody complying with all the criteria:

  • Not more than 450 days can be spent outside the UK during those 5 years prior to applying for naturalisation, and no more than 90 days in the last year.
  • No criminal and immigration offences.
  • English language test.
  • Life in the UK test.
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